Watching the Global Brain

Using video tapes as a transforming tool

One of the articles in Strategies For Cultural Change (IC#9)
Originally published in Spring 1985 on page 40
Copyright (c)1985, 1997 by Context Institute

The U. V. Family is a team of people who travel around the country doing what they can to help the process of cultural transformation – and here is one of the things they have found that works. Their name comes from the motorhome that they designed and built (U. V. = ultimate vehicle). The story of their innovative relationship is in issue #10.

LAST SPRING, AFTER 15 YEARS of puritanical abstinence from the "boob tube" we saw the 37-minute video entitled THE GLOBAL BRAIN by Peter Russell – and woke up to the transformational power that can come through (of all things!} a television screen.

This video, based on Peter’s book by the same title (published by J.P. Tarcher in 1983) was originally a slide show that Peter presented at the 1983 Conference of the Association for Humanistic Psychology.

The central notion of both the book and the video is that as a species on the planet, we are at a critical choice point: Will we devote ourselves to the continued evolution and well- being of life on earth or will we persist in our self-centered and ultimately destructive behavior? Drawing from scientific, sociological, developmental and historical research, he outlines the possibilities for humanity to work synergistically as the intelligence of the earth – the global brain – or to function selfishly as a planetary cancer. His elaboration of this idea is coherent, lucid and potent. The images include beautiful photos of the earth seen from space plus simple yet eloquent graphics for such abstractions as the nature of the ego, the real Self, a high synergy society and more. Together, text and visuals make a powerful and penetrating case for waking up, individually and collectively, to our potential to serve as catalysts for positive change.

In our lifestyle of travel and teaching, we have many opportunities to speak to groups of people. In this video of THE GLOBAL BRAIN we recognized a potent tool for our work and quickly purchased a copy. (The video is available from Penny Price Productions, 7260 Hillside Plaza, Suite 308, Los Angeles, CA 90046; phone (213) 851-2400; $39/copy.) Soon thereafter we bought a VCR to be able to show it whenever we found a willing audience and a television set. We have since shown it to literally thousands of people of a wide range of ages, persuasions and lifestyles, and in an equally wide range of settings – from large meeting halls to living rooms at small, intimate family gatherings. And in virtually all cases, it has been a catalyzing force. For some, it provided the first glimmer of a larger meaning to their lives; for others it was the inspiration that propelled them into creative action. And always, the video has been a take-off point for discussion and exploration.

One friend’s 92-year-old mother shuffled into the living room while we were watching the video and to our amazement sat through the whole thing. Afterwards she said, "You know, all my life I’ve worried so much about myself that I haven’t had room for anything else, but now I see how much more there is to living." And since that day, she’s no longer the querulous, frightened bystander in the household, but rather a welcoming presence.

At a spiritual community where we teach several weeks each year, we showed the video to a gathering of all their current classes which stimulated two hours of discussion plus commitments from five students to buy copies and share them back home – home being Alaska, New York, Alabama, Texas and Mexico!

At an annual conference that is usually focused on alternative relationship styles, the organizer took a chance, opening with this video projected onto a mammoth screen and closing with us speaking on creating relationships grounded in this vision of serving the planet. The participants, almost to a person, were excited by seeing this expanded context for their lives and their relationships, beyond "personal growth" and beyond "open relationships."

These are but a few examples of how we’ve used THE GLOBAL BRAIN video. We’ve also shown it at alternative communities, Christian churches (right after the regular service), Hindu meditation centers, educational institutions, high school classes, and to our landlady . . . always with excellent results. And the ingredients are so simple – a group of people, a television, a VCR (rentable everywhere), the video and our own enthusiasm and willingness to guarantee a well-spent 37 minutes.

We understand from Peter Russell that many people are using THE GLOBAL BRAIN video in unique and innovative ways. Some are doing weekly showings in their homes. A management trainer at a major corporation will be showing it to all his executives. Another businessman, the head of a multi-national corporation, will be showing it in all his offices around the world. And the list goes on, much of it probably as yet unknown, like all good grassroots movements! Our experiences with it have opened our eyes to the vast potential for video as a tool for transformation and as a strategy for mobilizing and empowering people to take the next step in their own lives and in the evolution of our planet.

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